Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

In-between moments can be just as memorable as grand finales. This week, share a photo you took on the way to something else. – The Daily Post

I haven’t been able to get together any posts for vacation just yet but here are some shots from Seattle & Alaska. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

IMG_8225

First leg of the flight to Toronto for layover to Seattle!

IMG_8228

Above the clouds on the flight to Seattle!

IMG_9128

The first night on cruise, at sea for the next day!

IMG_9134

Sunrise on the second day, officially at sea on the way to Ketchikan!

IMG_9887

Day 8: Heading into Glacier Bay National Park!

IMG_9968

Leaving Glacier Bay National Park, heading towards Icy Point Strait!

Being on a cruise is always about being on the way to the location! There’s always time to meet new people but also time to admire everything around not only the cruise ship but also the breathtaking calm and peaceful view. While life on the cruise ship is slow, there is so much to take in.  I’d be lying if I don’t miss that a little right now, even if I sometimes felt it was a little too slow. I don’t quite mind being on the way all the time because travelling and seeing new places is just awesome!!

Gluten-Free (Coconut Flour) Banana-Walnut Bread!

Last month I was contacted and asked to create a recipe using coconut flour. Seeing as how I’ve been meaning to give coconut flour a shot, for my gluten-free flour choice, I decided to give it a try! You can find more info on coconut flour on their site here.

For this recipe, after some thought I decided to use a banana bread as the foundation.  I’ve heard that coconut flour is a little more dry than normal flour but still very good.  But then, most gluten-free flour seems to have that problem too.  I wonder if it’ll turn out the same way.

Banana-Walnut Bread

Banana-Walnut Bread

As I’ve been saying in previous baking posts, moving has been really hard.  I can’t seem to find everything I need between leaving some pans for my mom, coincidentally the loaf pan so I was stuck with this square one.  Still, bread is bread and with a little lower baking time, it worked out pretty well. Before I say anything else, here’s the recipe I used, adapted from the Pumpkin Bread recipe in the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook. It’s not Christmas but its my go-to bread recipe.

Banana- Walnut Bread

Makes 24 slices (in a loaf pan)

3 mashed bananas
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups coconut flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven.  Heat oven to 350F.  Grease bottoms only of pan with shortening or cooking spray.

2. In large bowl, stir banana, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed.  Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts.  Stir in nuts.

3. Bake 8 inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9 inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.

4.  Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pan to wire rack.  Cool completely about 2 hours, before slicing.

Banana Walnut Bread

For once, the recipe up there, ingredients is exactly the portion I used.  I had to guesstimate a bit of the portions as I couldn’t find my measuring cups but it worked out okay.  It definitely was a little dry and crumbly but the taste was very good.  I’d have to agree that with a little practice in finding the right level of moistness to the recipes and some research, coconut flour could be a really good alternative for a gluten-free diet/baked good.

This banana bread was pretty good.  I think it was a good idea to decrease the sugar since bananas already have quite a bit of it.  The walnut pieces gives it some chewy texture and it smelled delectable.  Think banana and coconut filling the house.  I’m serious, its a pretty good choice.  I’ve been searching a long time for a good gluten-free flour.  Cloud Nine with a rice and buckwheat base was a good mix but unfortunately thats not available at Costco anymore (or anywhere I frequent).  The Robin Hood GF flour has a beet base and it tastes really bad.  Blame that one for why I haven’t been baking a lot.  Now, coconut flour smells really good without being in the recipe and if it holds all those nutritious values like on the site, I’m down for giving it a shot.

Do you eat gluten-free foods? Have you tried out coconut flour as a substitute for all-purpose/wheat flour? 

Pinterest Therapy!

Because its tax season at work and moving to a new place is a whole bundle of adapting so I can’t sleep while worrying about my cat adapting.

*takes a deep breath*

Yeah…stressful week, my friends.  Work is starting to pick up and everyone is starting to go on edge and its affecting me just a little.  I’m pretty glad that its Friday because then I can hang out with the boyfriend since we’ll have our weekends to go out and run errands.  Good news is that my cat is adapting a little better since yesterday and getting back to her old shenanigans at our new home. I can feel my boyfriend frowning right about now…

Anyways, we’re all building a new routine and its hindering the whole blogging thing a little so my posts are a little all over the place now. And there’s just a million things to organize and clean.

In the heart of a newish place, Pinterest has really soothed my soul in teaching me a few things for plans I have for two things I plan to implement: healthy eating and garden (herb/veggie/flower).

Let’s get this started!

Infused Water Recipes 

Infused Water Recipes

Moving out means that I’m partially getting my own freedom but it also means that I don’t have my mom running after me making sure I’m hydrated and eating enough fruits and vegetables.  I’ve gradually been trying to implement that sort of lifestyle more because its easy to go for the junk food category but I need to be more responsible for my health.  Staying hydrated has been my side goal this year.  I’m aiming towards the 8 glasses of water everyday.  I usually get about 5…. not too successful.  Last summer, I started experimenting with infused water and this year, I’m going to give that another shot.  Its particularly refreshing in the summer.

Fruit Salads (with a Twist)

fruit salad

I acknowledge that I’m really pampered.  At my mom’s, she would bring me fruits every night. Seriously, its the best.  I love fruits, I really do but cutting and washing fruits is not on the top of my to-do list when I get home and race with time to finish everything before midnight comes around and bedtime starts calling out to me.  While a lot of you think that I never sleep, I do and I’ve been needing it more and more. So, with that in mind, I’ve been thinking I’ll whip up some fruit salads.  I love them a whole lot and I’m actually really good at it. The only thing I’d like to try to give it a twist.  While this one is about adding vanilla pudding powder to it, I’m thinking a little more like honey or whatnot.

Its an idea, right? 😉

When to Sow What?

sow seeds

I don’t have a green thumb. I tried last year and it was kind of a draw. Only my fuschia is standing and my bay leaf plant looks like its about to die every single day.  I bought a ton of seeds last year and I’m planning on kickstarting that vegetable garden.  I haven’t quite decided if it’ll be in ground or container or above ground garden.  I’m planning it out. Thing is: I want to try this sowing seeds thing so I’m working on it in advance.  If that fails, I can always head to the greenhouse place that I go to and pick up some more varieties 🙂

This little chart motivated me to sow those broccoli and basil seeds earlier this week. Marigold is going to be planted and I’m going to research a little more on other seeds I have that I’d like to grow.

10 Mistakes New Gardeners Make and How to Avoid Them

herb garden

My ultimate goal is to grow a successful indoor herb garden.  I have the rack for it and everything I need for setup.  The only thing now is gaining the skills to keep it alive.  This little article actually taught me quite a bit and I’m reading the herb books that I bought last year.  Its a whole lot of research for this gardening thing. I’m determined to master this thing one way or another.  I’m planning out what I’d like of course and slowly learning as I go.

How to Garden Ready for Spring

ready for spring

Garden is my territory so it also  means all the tidying work comes to me.  Well, except the mowing the lawn part.  My boyfriend likes to do that apparently.  Its fine with me.  This weekend’s all about getting the garden ready especially since my tulips are popping out of the ground now.  I was worrying like crazy that they wouldn’t 🙂

Plants to Help Save Bees

plants to help save bees

I’m a little scared of bees but the garden thrives on bees and butterflies and birds.  I love them and they are fantastic for what they can do.  I had found some seeds at Walmart a few weeks ago for butterfly and hummingbird gardens and I already know where I want to plant them.  When I saw this one, I was a little intrigued to see if I can make this work as well.  As you all know, I need them bees to help me with my veggies and flowers growth.  Plus, whats summer with butterflies and bees flying around.  Did I just get all poetic right there? 😉

Bonus: Veronica Mars

veronica mars

I’m REALLY late on this wave but I finally am starting to watch Veronica Mars, the series.  I’m halfway through Season 1 and man, I have a pretty huge girl crush on Veronica Mars. It makes me think that I really need to start that Crush of the month segment.  Plus, ever since I’ve seen Moonlight, I had a huge thing for Jason Dohring but he’s not in a lot of stuff so imagine my joy when I saw him in this one.  I haven’t read up anything on this but I did search up some pics and I’m sure him and Veronica will be a thing later on.  Still, I’m obsessed, so incredibly obsessed.  I have a date with Netflix tonight to continue watching it.

Quote:

veronica mars

Yay! I’m moved out! New home, settling in, figuring out gardening, learning how to be responsible and live healthy.  I’m sorry if things go a little all over the place in the next few weeks but once I find a schedule and routine that works, we’ll be all set! I do have a ton of posts planned, so I’m going to try and tear my eyes away from Veronica Mars and all those organizing the house stuff to get it written 🙂

Anyways, enough of my rambling! Pinterest therapy over this time! I’m feeling a little better!

Happy Friday, my lovelies! 🙂

Begorrathon 2015: Irish Apple Cake

Welcome to another little entry for Begorrathon in celebration of Ireland month over at The Fluff is Raging and 746 Books.

As you may have realized, I’m a little rusty on everything Irish.  The only think I know is St. Patty’s Day and that is today 😉 And that a ton of people like to go to the Irish pubs here and drink. Well, I’m not going to drink tonight since I do have work tomorrow but last night I did manage to make a little desserts.  Pinterest called it an Irish Apple Cake so I’m going to assume its traditional to some sense and that it works for this 😉 I’m thinking of making an actual main dish this weekend, just because its really kicked up some cooking and baking juices that I desperately have been needing.

IRISH APPLE CAKE

Serves: 12

Irish Apple Cake

Fresh out of the oven

Irish Apple Cake

The crumbly texture and abundance of apples

You can find the recipe here: http://thekitchenmccabe.com/2014/03/07/irish-apple-cake-with-custard-sauce/

The original cake is supposed to be in a cake pan but last night, my cake pan vanished.  Nowhere to be seen.  Maybe I moved it to my own home.  So I took the what I think is called the Angel food cake pan.  Still, it did the job, right? It did have a little accident as I tried to put it on a plate and broke apart but all is well, still edible 🙂

As usual, there are few changes:

  • Flour: gluten-free flour
  • Ground cloves replaced with allspice
  • 3 (instead of 4) Granny Smith apples: probably because I didn’t chop them into small enough pieces
  • Milk: Cashew milk (trying this new one from Earth’s Own)
  • Omitted custard sauce (we’re not huge fans and I need someone to actually eat the cake)

Irish Apple cake

Irish Apple Cake works extremely well with gluten-free flour.  If you haven’t used GF flour before, its a lot drier than all-purpose and thats why making fruity cakes work really well.  Maybe not exactly dried fruits but I mean, fresh fruits.  This one was so abundant with apples that it actually kept the flavor well.  I’m going to admit that the Robin Hood Gluten-Free Flour I’m using now and that whole beetroot base is definitely an acquired taste (I’m still working on acquiring it).  Which comes to my point that because this one had so many apples, it didn’t have as much floury taste and that worked to its favor.  I also love the crumbly texture and its even more so because its with the drier GF flour.

There’s a whole lot to love about this Irish Apple Cake.  I’m guess if I cut the apples into smaller pieces, I’d have 4 apples and it would work out even better. Although a little more time consuming because you need to cut the butter into little pieces (maybe because I don’t have those fancy tools).  It could also use with a little less sugar.  Maybe half cup would do if you don’t like baked goods too sweet. Pretty much, this recipe is relatively easy to make.  Just budget some time in to cut in the butter and peeling and chopping the apples, everything else is straight forward.  Believe me on one thing, when the house smells like this apple cake, all the prep work is worth it 🙂

Any other recipes to suggest? What fresh fruits do you like in baked goods?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected. – The Daily Post

sentier des chutes

sentier des chutes

Going deep into the forest on a hiking trail, the breath of fresh air from going into something so deep into nature that its like a calm clearing makes us forget about the busy urban every day life and here’s where I feel deeply connect to nature.  I’m taking this past week’s theme to a figurative and literal interpretation 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Serenity (noun):
The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. – The Daily Post

This is right up my alley, right? Honestly, Tranquil Dreams could have very much also been Serene Dreams.  It just didn’t appeal to me as much.  When you see the word Serenity in Chinese on any items in stores, you are looking at a part of my Chinese name.  Isn’t that nifty?

Anyways, enough of my rambling.

Despite my blog name, I am not very serene because I’m a worry-wart.  Where do I get away from these things? Thats where my hiking trips come handy. Nature is where I find this. Nothing quite beats being engulfed in nature, surrounded by trees and especially bodies of water: streams, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans…you get the idea.  I just love the sound of water.  Its so calming.

Saguenay Lac Saint Jean

On the way to Saguenay Lac St. Jean, August 2014 at a viewpoint

Trou de la Fee

Green Corridor (Trail) on Trou de la Fee Park in Saguenay Lac St. Jean, August 2014

Sunrise Old Montreal

Early morning sunrise session in Old Montreal, December 2014

Finally, I don’t get hiking every day so my constant serenity comes from my sleeping cat.  She purrs *really* loud (more than normal) and she just calms me down when she does.  Its a little weird but it helps me sleep. So, here’s a little bonus picture…finding her under the covers.

wpid-20141103_015755.jpg

What makes you feel serenity? 

What?! 4 Years Already? (ANNOUNCEMENTS)

Hey everyone!

I was originally going to do a vlog then my inner critique started kicking in and I just couldn’t film a good video and it just started getting late so I decided to write out the post instead!

Today is a VERY special day! Tranquil Dreams is 4 years old! YAY!

happy birthday

I can’t believe that its been 4 years that I’ve been writing this blog.  It is definitely one of my biggest accomplishments and one that I’m extremely proud of.  Tranquil Dreams started from my desire to fuel my life’s with a lot of positive through my passions and interests.  Its been a whole lot more than that since, I’ve lost my way and then found it all over again.  Tranquil Dreams has changed me in a really awesome way and honestly, as much as I always could say that its a lot to do with my willpower to keep at this, it wouldn’t have happened without ALL OF YOU! Everyone of you thats stopped by, liked, commented, or even just checking this space out makes me happy.

yay disny

I love you all! And I appreciate it so much! Its hard to cover everyone thats inspired me to keep Tranquil Dreams going but here are a good portion of them.  If I forgot you, its really not intentional. Remember to show them lots of love because they are absolutely in the awesome zone:

Aan Prihandaya
Alex Raphael
Books, Movies, Poetry
Butterflymumma
CC PopCulture

Cindy Bruchman
Cinema Parrot Disco
Cinematic Katzenjammer
Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews
FlixChatter
Hard Ticket to Home Video
Isaacs Picture Conclusions
Let’s Go to the Movies
Life of this City Girl
Live & Learn
Mettel Ray
MKG-Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts
MovieRob
Mr. Movie’s Film Blog
Not a Punk Rocker
Parlor of Horror
Rhino’s Horror
Screenkicker!
Silver Screen Serenade
Snap Crackle Watch!
Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger
Ten Stars or Less
The Vern’s Video Vortex
Thirdeyemom
Thy Critic Man
Today I Watched a Movie
Tvor Travels
Yummy Lummy

+ many more!

Moving on to some 2015 fun business! 🙂

I’m announcing 2 long-term projects. You can see the pages up in the menu.

1)THE CLASSICS ADVENTURE

jane austen books

I read a lot during the year.  In 2015, I’m still doing the 40 books for Goodreads Reading Challenge. Although I check out a lot of books, I neglect reading Classics.  So this year, its to work on that. My first highlight is to read Jane Austen’s novels  plus a few that I’ve chosen.  The list will be updated in the page under Books in the menu.

If there’s any novels that I should check out, feel free to suggest!

2) BAKING THROUGH DISNEY

disney poster

Concept as simple as it sounds. I’ll be watching Disney Animated Classics and Pixar.  I’ll get a review done and then I’ll make a fancy baked goods.  It could be cupcakes (which was the original concept) but it could also be cookies or cakes, depending on what I come up with to portray the movie.

More details and the list up on the menu.  Because it covers two categories of Tranquil Dreams, I gave it its own tab.

As a general update for 2015 (since I didn’t really do one before)…

2015 inspiration

2015 is all about going back to versatility.  There’s going to be a bunch of randomness.  I’m going to do random Pinterest Therapy and Music Obsessions plus show some of the “adventures”.  Generally, I’ll be covering events and exhibits around Montreal .  Right now, I’m set to do Fantasia Film Festival, Montreal Comic-con and planning to go to Toronto Comic-con.

Aside from that, movies will be trying to get a new release every month in theatres.  You can check out my 2015 Anticipated Movies HERE. Plus, I’ve been doing TV Binge posts along with movie reviews 🙂

Book reviews will resume to full book reviews (since I really missed that last year).  Aside from classics, my focus is going to be on featuring independent writers.  Movie reviews will be done as frequently as I can do them.  If I feel that some movies are rather average, I’ll group them into double features.

Thats the plan for 2015! Depending on how these plans go, maybe I’ll launch something else midyear (not sure yet). I had wanted to get a rating system on but I haven’t quite worked that out either.  Lots of ideas going on in my head but for now, this is it!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

STAY AWESOME AND HAPPY 2015!

*I updated my menu and the About page.  Will be working on the sidebar soon!*

Baking: Cranberry Scones!

More cranberries!

I’m about to give up on this, but then I only have 3/4 pouch left.  So, after talking about making scones for weeks, here I am! I dug out a recipe on Martha Stewart site (a place I haven’t ventured to in a long time) and made these 🙂

cranberry scones

You can find the recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/338474/cranberry-scones

There were a few modifications to the recipe.

  • As usual, I used Gluten-Free flour because thats all I have now. And its a lifestyle I’m working on. There is one thing to note about gluten-free anything is that it makes baked goods slightly more dry and in the case of an already pretty dry baked goods, like scones, there needs to be some moderation if you like.
  • I estimated the amount of butter, mostly because I only had two little slabs left so I could only work with what I had…
  • Half and half means milk and cream.  I used almond milk (2/3 cup) and then instead of cream, I used raspberry yogourt.  I would have preferred to use vanilla but it was a choice between raspberry and blueberry.

cranberry scones

The scones tasted good but I’m guessing because of the gluten-free flours, it felt even more dry than it usually would.  The cranberries added a burst of flavor and there were still hints of the raspberry yogourt in there which really helped.  However, I’d say it was a success because matched with tea in the morning, it was pretty good 🙂

I don’t make scones often so there’s still a lot of improvement that I can make on this.

Do you like scones? What do you like to add to it? 

I still have one more cranberry baking adventure. Any suggestions?

Zucchini Fritters!

I’m on a cooking thing right now.  I promise you baking will happen soon.  I really miss it but I’m just so indecisive when it comes to what to make.  There are so many choices and just not enough time (or ingredients).

I’ve had a pack of zucchini waiting desperately for me to cook.  The plan was to make zucchini chips but I never got around to it since I made those bacon avocado fries (if you missed that, check it out HERE).  Thats the plan for this weekend (or at least some time this week).

When I searched up Pinterest, the first thing that popped up at me was Zucchini Fritters. Don’t know why. Maybe its the good balance of veggies and protein from eggs so it seemed like a good choice for dinner.  Regardless, I love Pinterest and all the ideas its offered me.

You can find the recipe for this right HERE from Damn Delicious!

I did mine in 3 different batches testing out the heat and whatnot.  The first time turned out in a disaster…

Zucchini Fritters

First try—fail

Well, it still tasted good and not burnt even but it did not look appealing…at all!

Second try was a little bit better…still needed a little bit of patience to get the flipping over part better.

zucchini fritters

Second try

Actually, this looks pretty nice, no? Its too bad that the flip side is not so good.

And then the third one, testing with a big one because I’m lazy and impatient at this point. I’m a pretty lousy cook mostly because I can have impressive amount of patience for baking (and crafts) but with cooking, I just really find it so difficult.

zucchini fritters

Big piece is not a good idea.

Now, there is one big change I made for this.  The link to the recipe is up there if you want to take a peek before checking this part out.  I didn’t grate the zucchini as I should have so thats why it was harder for it to stay together in one piece.  I just absolutely loathe grating and I couldn’t find where mine went. It always seems to disappear on me.

Other changes:

  • All-purpose flour was gluten-free
  • Omit parmesan (next time I will try with lactose free cheese)

Another baking adventure done 🙂 This one I’m definitely going to revisit.  It was so good! Sure, it didn’t look too pretty and dicing those zucchini in little pieces was incredibly tiresome and long to do but it paid off and thats what counts.

Next goal: Zucchini chips!

How do you like to  make zucchini? Have you done fritters before? Any tips you’d like to share?

Pumpkin Pancakes!

My boyfriend and I don’t spend a lot of time making breakfast together in the mornings because of our work schedules but we totally love making breakfast style dinners.  Usually it involves potatoes and sausages and eggs.  On Sunday, I had this sudden craving for pumpkin pancakes.  Don’t ask me why.  Maybe its because I remembered I had a can of canned pumpkin or maybe it was looking through the Looneyspoons recipe book and finding the recipe for pumpkin pancakes but he agreed with the idea and after I mixed up the batter, he cooked it (because he’s better at it than I am).

As mentioned before, this is from the Looneyspoons collection cookbook. After the recipe, I’ll talk about the changes I did.

pumpkin pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

Makes 12 medium pancakes

*1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
*1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
*1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt
*1 can evaporated milk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup each vanilla-flavored yogurt and pure maple syrup1. Preheat griddle to medium-high heat.  Combine both flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla.

2. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Spoon batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto preheated griddle that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.  Gently spread batter to about a 4 inch diameter.  Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until pancakes are golden brown and cooked through.  Be careful not to burn them.  Serve immediately topped with vanilla yogurt and maple syrup.

pumpkin pancakes

As any recipes, I worked with what was available to me.  You will notice changes or omissions shown with  the asterisks (*).  In this one, the only omission with baking soda.  I know its sad that I don’t have any at home. Other than that, all-purpose flour and wheat flour was replaced by gluten-free all-purpose flour. Pumpkin pie spice was replaced with allspice. The evaporated milk was replace by 1 cup almond milk.  I only topped with vanilla-flavored yogurt and my boyfriend only topped it with maple syrup.

Another change would be that I don’t have a griddle so no preheating of that.  I just put together the batter and made it in a non-stick pan. We also always have a problem with the thickness of the batter so we always have to add more milk or water to make it a little more liquid.

I love pumpkin pancakes (although I should try making other flavors eventually). This one was pretty good. It wasn’t too sweet and it tasted a little of pumpkins and all that.  It was fluffy and delicious 🙂 How else do you describe pancakes anyways? I thought they were really great and its easy to put together. Plus, vanilla yogurt is absolutely awesome as a topping and I’m not a huge fan of it to begin with.

Do you like pancakes?